Duke student organizations, faculty, staff and alumni ask Price to act on Durham-Orange Light Rail

Dear President Price:

We, the undersigned Duke organizations, faculty, staff and alumni, appreciate that Duke University has worked with GoTriangle to discuss its concerns regarding the Durham-Orange Light Rail transit project (DOLRT). The vitality of the Triangle region depends on an excellent public transit system, and this light rail is a crucial component. The benefits for Durham residents are numerous, including 1) affordable housing, 2) increased access to jobs, care, and education, 3) environmental benefits, and 4) return on investment. As an institution dedicated to increasing opportunity for all, it is the University’s moral responsibility to uplift our region by supporting the successful development of the light rail. President Price, will you contribute the necessary land to the Durham-Orange Light Rail and sign the cooperative agreement with GoTriangle by the end of February?

In the next 25 years, the Triangle region will grow by 1 million people. To meet that growth while simultaneously preserving quality of life, the Triangle will need to invest in transit systems that reduce traffic congestion. A light rail must be part of that solution if we are to match the practices of other growing metropolitan areas. Accessible transit is also essential for affordable housing. Seven out of every 10 homes owned by the Durham Housing Authority (DHA) are within a mile of a proposed light-rail station. The light rail’s high degree of accessibility allows the DHA to receive more funding for affordable housing from federal programs that value interconnected transit. Duke must be a part of increasing housing options for low and moderate income residents if it values the overall well-being of the Triangle area.

Second, the light rail will increase access to workplaces, health care facilities and education. The light rail is designed to pass through three of the top 10 employers in the state. Local communities, including the tens of thousands of Durham residents who do not own cars and have been geographically isolated from job opportunities, will now have much-needed access to employment. The light rail would also connect the UNC and Duke healthcare systems, thereby enhancing the region’s ability to provide excellent patient care to the maximum number of people. As one of the nation’s premiere leaders in healthcare, Duke University has the opportunity and obligation to stand at the forefront of a project that can dramatically improve health services.

Third, the light rail will allow the region to save 80 billion BTUs of energy every year that it operates. This technology will improve air quality and further the region’s commitment to finding low-carbon transportation solutions. Duke prides itself on its environmental leadership, both on campus and in the community, and the University’s support of the light rail serves as a tangible step in solidifying that legacy.

Finally, multiple studies have highlighted the profound economic impacts of the light rail. The light rail will support nearly 30,000 new jobs in Durham and Orange Counties alone. It will also bring $175 million in new annual tax revenues to the cities, counties, and state. The University is in the position to be a part of that growth, which will support generations of residents and businesses to come.

We recognize that as a Level 1 trauma center, Duke Health must consider the implications that construction may have on patient care and emergency access. GoTriangle has a list of 20 medical centers across the country with rail systems in close proximity that can serve as examples of how solutions can be found through cooperation. GoTriangle has also made good-faith efforts to carefully address Duke’s concerns by adjusting routes, altering construction activities, fundraising millions of dollars for changes, and offering to hire design consultants that specialize in health systems. To reduce any noise disruptions to patients, GoTriangle has agreed to meet the most stringent vibration thresholds presented by Duke Medical Center. All of these changes have been performed at Duke’s request as a means of greatly minimizing hospital disturbances and maintaining Duke Health’s high level of care. Now, it is Duke’s turn to be a good neighbor and support the light rail.

The purpose of the cooperative agreement between GoTriangle and Duke is to commit to working together to address any remaining issues. The UNC Healthcare System, another excellent provider of health services, has already signed its own cooperative agreement with the intention of collaborating further with GoTriangle to resolve any remaining concerns about patient care. This means that no single plan of design has to be finalized by the end of February. However, if Duke does not agree to donate its land by the end of February, the light rail will not be able to meet deadlines for crucial federal funding. Without Duke’s support, all of the affordable housing benefits, economic development and low-carbon solutions that the light rail offers will disappear. The 20 years of effort that city officials, transit authorities, and community members have invested in the project will go to waste. The University has a chance to prove its dedication to the vitality of our region and to demonstrate its genuine willingness for collaboration.

President Price, for the many compelling reasons outlined herein, we call on you to donate the necessary land to the Durham-Orange Light Rail and to sign the cooperative agreement with GoTriangle by the end of February.


Duke student organizations:

  1. Duke Climate Coalition
  2. Black Men’s Union
  3. Diverse and Inclusive Community for the Environment 
  4. Duke Alpha Pi Omega Sorority
  5. Duke Conservation Tech
  6. Duke Energy Club
  7. Duke Environmental Law and Policy Forum 
  8. Duke Independent Film Festival
  9. Duke People’s State of the University
  10. Duke Smart Home
  11. Environmental Alliance
  12. Food for Thought
  13. Net Impact Nicholas School Chapter
  14. The Nicholas Forestry and Environmental Management Board 
  15. Nicholas School Student Council 
  16. Ocean Policy Working Group

Duke faculty and staff:

  1. Betsy Alden; Program in Education
  2. Susan Alperts; Professor of Biology and Evolutionary Anthropology
  3. Eileen Anderson; Lecturing Fellow, Romance Studies
  4. Carol Apollonio; Professor of the Practice, Slavic and Eurasian Studies
  5. Daniele Armaleo; Associate Professor of the Practice, Department of Biology
  6. Paul A. Baker; Nicholas School of the Environment
  7. Amelia Beatty; Duke Health-NP
  8. Elika Bergelson; Psychology and Neuroscience
  9. Volker Blum; Associate Professor, Pratt School of Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
  10. Katherine Brading; Duke Philosophy 
  11. Gregory Brown MD; Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Department of Medicine
  12. William H. Chafe; Alice Mary Baldwin Professor Emeritus of History. Dean Emeritus of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences
  13. Elizabeth Jane Costello Ph.D.; Emeritus Professor, Dept. of Psychiatry, School of Medicine
  14. Roberto Dainotto; Professor, Romance Studies
  15. Susan Jane Dunlap; Adjunct Assistant Professor, Divinity
  16. Michele M. Easter; Assistant Professor, Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Duke University School of Medicine
  17. Robert M. Entman; Professor Emeritus
  18. Alan E. Gelfand; Dep't of Statistical Science
  19. Alexander Glass; Earth and Ocean Sciences
  20. Wib Gulley; Professor of the Practice, Sanford School of Public Policy
  21. Frances S. Hasso; Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies
  22. Alison Hill, Ph.D.; Senior Lecturer, Duke Biology
  23. Robin Kirk; Senior Lecturer
  24. Peter Hubert Klopfer; Professor Emeritus, Duke Biology
  25. Ryke Longest; Clinical Professor, School of Law, Nicholas School of the Environment
  26. Gail R. Marsh; Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emeritus
  27. Carolyn McAllaster; Clinical Professor of Law, Duke Law School
  28. Daniel McShea; Duke Biology
  29. S. Thomas Mitchell-Olds; Newman Ivey White Distinguished Professor, Dept of Biology
  30. Kate Newman; Nasher Museum of Art
  31. Ram Oren; Nicholas School of the Environment
  32. Marcie Pachino; Communications Consultant, Pratt School of Engineering
  33. Sheila Patek; Biology Department
  34. Kenneth Reckhow; Professor Emeritus, Nicholas School of the Environment
  35. Allison G. Robertson; Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Duke University School of Medicine
  36. Alex Rosenberg; R. Taylor Cole Professor of Philosophy
  37. William H. Schlesinger; James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of Biogeochemistry and Dean Emeritus, Nicholas School of the Environment
  38. Jonathan L. Sheline, MD, MS; Clinical Associate, Department of Community and Family Medicine
  39. Drew Shindell; Nicholas Professor of Earth Sciences, Nicholas School of the Environment
  40. Kristen Shirey; Assistant Professor, Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine
  41. Beth Silberman; Duke Health
  42. Robin Smith; Office of News and Communications
  43. Carol Stack; Professor Emeritus
  44. Elisabeth C. Stagg; former Assoc. Dir. of Communications, Duke Divinity School 
  45. Caroline Stinson; Professor of the Practice of Music
  46. Marvin Swartz; Professor in Department of Psychiatry, Duke University School of Medicine
  47. Jennifer Swenson; Associate Professor of the Practice, School of Environment
  48. Jennifer Turi, MD; Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics
  49. Rytas Vilgalys; Professor, Biology Department
  50. Sarah Weaver; School of Medicine
  51. Skye Wilson; Student Affairs, Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity

An additional two faculty signed who did not wish to be listed in the public release of the letter. 

Duke alumni:

  1. Cavett Hamilton French, Class of 1962
  2. Betsy Alden, Class of 1964
  3. Brent Blackwelder, Class of 1964
  4. Ninian Beall, Jr., Class of 1968
  5. John Charles Boger, Class of 1968
  6. Elizabeth Hastings Conroy, Class of 1968
  7. Arnie Katz, Class of 1968
  8. David M. Henderson, Class of 1968
  9. Sharron Bailey Parker, Class of 1968
  10. Margaret H. Small , Class of 1968
  11. Donna J Hicks, Class of 1969
  12. Julia Borbely-Brown, Class of 1970
  13. Wib Gulley, Class of 1970
  14. Jean M. Cary, Class of 1971
  15. Robert M. Entman, Class of 1971
  16. John Valentine, Class of 1971
  17. Stephen Maynard Cameron, Class of 1977
  18. Jeanette Stokes, Class of 1977 (Divinity)
  19. Harlan Joel Gradin, Class of 1978
  20. Pamela Hoge, Class of 1978
  21. Stephen Pomeroy, Class of 1978 (MHA)
  22. Nancy Baker Dietrich, Class of 1980 (Nursing)
  23. Laurie Fox, Class of 1980
  24. Christine A. Cupido, Class of 1981
  25. Martha Klopfer, Class of 1981
  26. Jenny Warburg, Class of 1981
  27. Donna Blagdan, Class of 1982
  28. Deborah Burkart, Class 1982
  29. Meredith Emmett, Class of 1982
  30. Rebecca Stith, Class of 1982
  31. Betsy Barton, Class of 1983
  32. Andrea Klausner, Class of 1983
  33. Gia Scarpetta, Class of 1983
  34. Marcie Pachino, Class of 1983
  35. James Scott Carter, Class of 1983 (BS), 1984 (MS)
  36. Daniele Armaleo, Class of 1984
  37. Thomas Beckett, Class of 1984
  38. Erica Rapport Gringle, Class of 1984 (PhD)
  39. Kenneth Dalshiemer, Class of 1985 (Graduate School)
  40. Blandy Fisher, Class of 1985
  41. Marcia A. Angle, Class of 1984 (MD), Class of 1987 (HS)
  42. Les Field, Class of 1987 (PhD)
  43. Matt Hapgood, Class of 1988
  44. Ann Bebe Guill, Class of 1993 (Divinity)
  45. Barbara Maclay Cameron, Class of 1994 (MA)
  46. Susan Rita Cohen, Class of 1997 (Nursing)
  47. Deborah Lawrence, Class of 1998
  48. Brian James Cornell, Class of 2000
  49. Sol Osterkatz, Class of 2000
  50. Kathryn Fenn, Class of 2002
  51. Robin Smith, Class of 2005 (PhD)
  52. Garver Moore, Class of 2006
  53. Johnny Blades, Class of 2007 (Trinity)
  54. Chelsea Barnes, Class of 2008
  55. Cynthia Current, Class 2011
  56. Kate Newman, Class of 2012
  57. Annie McDonough, Class of 2013
  58. Lane Wallace, Class of 2014
  59. Brittney Balser, Class of 2015
  60. Leah Catotti, Class of 2015
  61. Mona Dai, Class of 2015
  62. Matthew Grossman, Class of 2015
  63. Rhonda Klevansky, Class of 2015
  64. Ashley Pollard, Class of 2015
  65. Malena Marguerite Price, Class of 2015
  66. Julian Xie, Class of 2015
  67. Gregory Brown, Class of 2016 (HS)
  68. Neal Pierre-Gatke, Class of 2016
  69. Sarah Rowan, Class of 2016
  70. Mindy Douglas, Class of 2017
  71. Elizabeth Anne Brown, Class of 2018
  72. Julia Kaufman, Class of 2018
  73. Anica Nangia, Class of 2018
  74. Jonathan Osei, Class of 2018
  75. Gloria Aldana, Class of 2018
  76. Lauren Mechan, Class of 2018
  77. Bobbi Lesser, Class of 2018
  78. David R. Tucker, Class of 2012
  79. Sarah Sanford, Class of 2018
  80. Justin Pearce, Class of 2017 
  81. Neil Matouka, Class of 2015

An additional three alumni signed who did not wish to be listed in the public release of the letter. 


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